The Soufan Group Morning Brief


MONDAY, JUNE 6, 2016

The Iraqi Army is ill-equipped and unprepared for what is expected to be a lengthy operation to retake the ISIS-held city of Mosul, according to American and allied officials. Despite the U.S. military’s best efforts to support and resupply the Iraqi Army in its push to retake ISIS territory in the country, much of its equipment needs to be repaired or replaced, and many Iraqi forces will require additional training before attacking Mosul. The pace of the Iraqi military’s operations against ISIS is expected to slow during the holy month of Ramadan, when Muslims fast during the day, and as temperatures increase over the summer. New York Times

Washington Post: As pressure increases on Islamic State’s capital, U.S. aircraft carrier starts striking from the Mediterranean
CNN: Battle for Falluja: Not Shias versus Sunnis but Iraqis versus ISIS
Financial Times: Fight for Fallujah will test Iraq’s mettle to defeat Isis

On Friday, a Minnesota jury found three Somali Americans guilty of federal charges that they attempted to travel to Syria to join ISIS. Guled Omar, 21; Abdirahman Daud, 22; and Mohamed Farah, 22, were all found guilty of charges including conspiracy to provide material support to ISIS. The verdict raises the question of how jurors view guilt in terrorism cases. Karen J. Greenberg, Director of the Center on National Security at Fordham Law, said the verdict raised the question: “where is that line in the jury’s mind between immersing oneself in the content of ISIL and taking action — an action that can get you put away for life?” New York Times, CBS, Minneapolis Star Tribune, Guardian

New York Times: Justice or ‘Conspiracy’? Terrorism Trial Divides Somalis in Minneapolis

Gitmo: 30 detainees held at Guantanamo Bay have now been cleared for release by the Periodic Review Board. The PRB recently approved the release of 46-year-old Bostan Karim, one of the Guantanamo “forever prisoners” who has been held at the prison since 2003. The PRB also decided, after 10 months of consideration, not to approve the release of Salman Rabei’i, a 36-year-old Yemeni national who the Board warned “repeatedly has said that the U.S. in particular and non-Muslims in general are his enemies, and he possibly aspires to reengage in terrorist activities.” Miami Herald

Associated Press: Obama Administration Rushing to Shrink Ranks at Guantanamo
NPR: 14 Years And One Memoir Later, A Gitmo Detainee Awaits His Fate

Snowden: Edward Snowden took greater efforts to raise concerns about NSA surveillance activities before leaking classified data than government officials have previously claimed, according to recently declassified documents obtained by VICE News in a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit. The documents reportedly confirm some of Snowden’s claims that he repeatedly attempted to raise concerns inside the NSA about the government’s surveillance program. VICE News

San Bernardino: A Homeland Security Inspector General report has found that a Homeland Security field office failed in its response to the San Bernardino shootings. Five DHS officials were blocked from moving beyond the lobby of the San Bernardino Citizenship and Immigration Services field office and were told they could not arrest Enrique Marquez and his wife, Mariya Chernykh, who officials believed were linked to the attacks. The Hill

An American NPR  journalist and his translator were killed on Sunday in a Taliban ambush in southern Afghanistan. David Gilkey, a photographer and videographer for NPR, and his Afghan translator, Zabihullah Tamanna, were killed in the attack on a convoy of Afghan Special Forces in Helmand Province. New York Times

Three Taliban Gunmen attacked an Afghan court on Sunday, killing seven people. The Taliban claimed in a statement that the attackers had killed “a number of prosecutors and judges,” including the newly appointed attorney general in the city of Pul-i-Alam in Logar province. This is the third court-related attack in Afghanistan in the past two weeks. New York Times, CNN

Yemen: U.S. Central Command announced several previously undisclosed counterterrorism strikes in Yemen on Friday. Four U.S. airstrikes over the last four months killed a total of 15 Al Qaeda militants in Yemen, according to a CENTCOM spokesperson. VOA

Syria: The UN Security Council agreed on Friday to formally request Syrian approval of humanitarian airdrops of food and medical supplies to civilians in besieged areas. The Syrian government has consistently denied access for land shipments of aid to rebel-held areas in the country. Washington Post

Reuters: Syrian and Russian aircraft step up bombing of Aleppo city: monitor

Germany: German authorities are investigating more than 180 suspects with alleged links to the foiled ISIS terror plot in Dusseldorf last week. A member of the terror cell that was arrested last week reportedly confessed to authorities in France that the group was planning several suicide bombings in the city center, similar to the Paris attacks last November. The Independent, Deutsche Welle

Kazakhstan: Suspected Islamist militants killed six people in the city of Aktobe on Sunday. The attacks, which were carried out by “followers of radical, non-traditional religious movements” targeted a national guard base and two stores selling firearms. Reuters
Muhammad Ali Transformed the Image of Islam: “Boxing made Muhammad Ali famous, but his conversion to Islam -- and the meaning the world attached to it -- made him a global historical figure,” writes Noah Feldman on Bloomberg View. “Ali’s conversion came to be understood as an act of transnational identification with the oppressed wretched of the earth. And through Ali, Islam itself was symbolically transformed for many observers from a conservative, quietist faith to a force for radical protest against Western power.”

Trump, Clinton, and the end of the Snowden era: “Trump has only doubled down on his adamant support for warrantless spying on a grand scale,” writes Bonnie Kristian on The Week. “Likely Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton is little better. Though she hasn't outright called for Snowden's execution, Clinton has grievously misrepresented his actions and wants to see him in jail. Her language on privacy issues is notoriously vague, and though she doesn't use Trump's ‘traitor’ terminology, her position is not substantively far off.”

Should the U.S. Military Receive the Benefit of the Doubt When Investigating Itself for Alleged War Crimes?: “The United States military’s accountability efforts have continued to improve during the contemporary conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan...At a minimum, the American military has shown a persistent willingness to investigate, prosecute, and convict its own members for serious law of armed conflict violations during the past fifteen years,” write Shane Reeve and Matthew Milikowsky on Lawfare. “The great unknown, of course, is the total number of war crimes committed. How many times do violations go unreported?”

For cutting-edge analysis of the geopolitical events shaping global affairs, read today’s TSG IntelBrief: The Quadrupling of Al-Qaeda in Yemen

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